Floodwater LODD: Lessons Learned

Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of a firefighter LODD that occurred during floodwater rescue operations.  Firefighters had been on-scene where multiple cars were stuck in floodwater.  Initially, they were standing by to turn the scene over to police because there were no entrapments.  While waiting for police to arrive, they were notified that there was a civilian in the floodwater.  What they could not see from the surface though, was that the civilian was standing at the top of a 10 ft. deep culvert.

Two firefighters made their way to the civilian.  Both firefighters ended up being pulled under the water due to the floodwater draining into a large diameter pipe (read more about differential pressures here).  Unfortunately, one of the firefighters was pulled all the way into the pipe and was discharged several blocks away from the scene.  The other firefighter and civilian survived the ordeal.

200102bSource: NIOSH

Lessons Learned:

Emergency services organizations must perform a hazard analysis and risk assessment of their community.  Where there is a possibility of floodwater rescue incidents occurring, organizations should identify the probable locations of flooding and train their personnel, at a minimum, to the awareness level.  Standard operating guidelines should be developed and implemented that emphasize performing a thorough scene size-up and following the water rescue sequence (self, reach, throw, row, go).  Finally, organizations should provide their personnel with the appropriate personal protective equipment for engaging in floodwater rescue operations!

Click here to read the full NIOSH LODD Report.

Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC offers Flood Rescue Awareness (3 hours) and Flood Rescue Skills Development (12 hours) training.  Please contact us to set up a class for your agency.  Stay safe!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

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